The management of bite wounds in children--a retrospective analysis at a level I trauma centre

Injury. 2012 Dec;43(12):2117-21. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.04.016. Epub 2012 May 16.


Introduction: Animal bite wounds are a significant problem, which have caused several preventable child deaths in clinical practice in the past. The majority of bite wounds is caused by dogs and cats, and also humans have to be considered to lead to those extreme complicated diagnosis in the paediatric patient population. Early estimation of infection risk, adequate antibiotic therapy and, if indicated, surgical treatment, are cornerstones of successful cures of bite wounds. However, antibiotic prophylaxis and wound management are discussed controversially in the current literature. In our study, we retrospectively investigated the bite source, infection risk and treatment options of paediatric bite wounds.

Methods: A total of 1592 paediatric trauma patients were analysed over a period of 19 years in this retrospective study at a level I trauma centre, Department of Trauma Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Data for this study were obtained from our electronic patient records and follow-up visits. In our database, all paediatric patients triaged to our major urban trauma centre have been entered retrospectively.

Results: During the 19-year study period, 1592 paediatric trauma patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean age was 7.7 years (range 0-18.9), 878 (55.2%) were males and 714 (44.8%) were females. In our study population, a total of 698 dog bites (43.8%), 694 human bites (43.6%), 138 other bites (8.7%) and 62 cat bites (3.9%) have been observed. A total of 171 wounds (10.7%) have been infected. Surgical intervention was done in 27 wounds (1.7%).

Conclusion: Gender-related incidence in bite wounds for dog and cat could be detected. Second, our findings for originator of bite wounds reflect the findings in the published literature. Total infection rate reached 10.7%, primary antibiotic therapy was administered in 221 cases (13.9%) and secondary antibiotic therapy in 20 (1.3%) cases. Observed infection rate of punctured wounds and wounds greater than 3 cm was 3 times higher than for all other wounds. Our findings need to be proven in further prospective clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Bites and Stings / drug therapy*
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology
  • Bites and Stings / surgery
  • Bites, Human
  • Cats
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Office Visits
  • Pets*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / epidemiology
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / surgery
  • Wound Infection / drug therapy*
  • Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Wound Infection / surgery
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents